In Iowa, countless agency nurses dedicate themselves to ensuring the health and safety of patients, making them a crucial cohort of healthcare workers in the state. They play a vital role in maintaining the well-being of Iowa residents, and they're recognized as highly skilled and esteemed professionals.
Yet, even with extensive training and qualifications, nurses often find their licenses in jeopardy. Reasons ranging from misunderstandings, grievances from dissatisfied patients, or various workplace incidents frequently lead to investigations, sometimes resulting in nurses losing their hard-earned licenses and their livelihoods.
At the Lento Law Firm, we're aware of the intense scrutiny you may face, particularly if you work for a nursing agency that assigns you to hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings. Those not directly employed by a medical facility may often face a higher risk of being accused of unprofessional conduct.
If your nursing license is under threat due to allegations, it's crucial to defend it vigorously. Relying on the nursing board or your employer for protection may not be enough. However, you can trust the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm. We are committed to supporting you throughout the entire process to safeguard your nursing license.
Iowa Nursing Board
The Iowa Board of Nursing is responsible for nurse licensing in the state. It issues new licenses, renews existing ones, and investigates potential violations. You have to go through the board to get your license, and if you are accused of violating any of the board's rules, you'll have to go through the board's hearing and complaint process.
The board also maintains a searchable database accessible to the public, where anyone can check the status of a nurse's license in the state. Medical facilities you work with, your employing agency, or your patients can all look you up. The database not only shows the current status of a license but also any previous disciplinary actions taken. Thus, if the board imposes any sanctions on you, this information will be visible in the database, even if your license is later reinstated and you are back in good standing.
Having a clean disciplinary record is important, especially if you're seeking employment with a nursing agency. Additionally, medical facilities contracting with your agency often prefer nurses who haven't had issues with the nursing board.
To maintain a clear disciplinary record, it's crucial to prevent the Iowa Nursing Board from taking action against your license. If you become aware that your agency or the board is contemplating an investigation against you, it's important to reach out to the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm immediately. Engaging our team early in the process is ideal, but we are equipped to assist at any stage, including during appeals. We are committed to helping you defend and retain your license.
Disciplinary Actions the Board Can Take Against Your License
If you are found responsible for violating Iowa's administrative codes concerning licensed nurses, the board may have the authority to impose a sanction. Disciplinary action can include one or more of the following:
- Revocation of a license
- Suspension of a license until further order of the board or for a specific period
- Nonrenewal of a license
- Restriction on engaging in specific nursing procedures, methods, settings, or acts
- Additional education or training, reexamination, or both
- Physical, mental, or substance abuse evaluation, alcohol or drug screening, or clinical competency evaluation
- Civil penalty of up to $1,000
- Citation and warning
- Any other sanctions allowed by law
You can also arrange a voluntary surrender of your license with the board. Doing so allows you to resolve the matter with the board or avoid having to follow the board's orders concerning disciplinary action. However, a voluntary license surrender has the same force and effect as a revocation. If the voluntary surrender takes place while a complaint or investigation process is pending, it's considered discipline.
The list of above actions isn't exhaustive when it comes to sanctions for nurses. The board has the authority to administer any other form of discipline as long as it's lawful. Sanctions can vary widely, depending on the severity of the alleged violation.
Anyone Can File a Complaint
Anyone from the public has the ability to lodge a complaint against you using the Board of Nursing's website. Additionally, the identity of the complainant remains confidential; you won't be able to know who made the complaint against you unless they're required to attend the hearing. It's also important to remember that certain individuals in healthcare professions are obligated by law to report concerns. This means they must file a complaint if they believe patient safety is at risk.
Actions that Put Your Iowa Nursing License at Risk
Nurses practicing in Iowa can be disciplined for failing to comply with the board's rules, as well as any wrongful act or omission related to nursing practice, licensure, or professional conduct. Some examples of grounds for discipline include:
- Fraud when trying to procure a nursing license
- Lack of knowledge, skill, or ability to fulfill professional obligations
- Deviation from the standards of learning, education, or skill ordinarily possessed and applied by other nurses in the state
- Willful or repeated departure from or failure to conform to the minimum standards of acceptable and prevailing practice of nursing
- Willful or repeated failure to practice nursing with reasonable skill and safety
- Willful or repeated failure to practice within the scope of current licensure or level of preparation
- Oral or written misrepresentation relating to degrees, credentials, licensure status, records, and applications
- Falsifying records related to nursing practice or knowingly permitting the use of falsified information in those records
- Performing nursing services beyond the authorized scope of practice for which you're licensed or prepared
- Allowing another person to use your nursing license for any purpose
- Failing to comply with any rule set forth by the board
- Improper delegation of nursing services, functions, or responsibilities
- Committing an act or omission which may adversely affect the physical or psychological welfare of the patient
- Committing an act which causes physical, emotional, or financial injury to the patient
- Failing to report to, or leaving a nursing assignment without properly notifying appropriate supervisory personnel and ensuring the safety and welfare of the patient
- Discriminating against a patient because of age, sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, creed, illness, disability, sexual orientation, or economic or social status
- Failing to accurately document the status of a patient
- Misappropriating medications, property, supplies, or equipment of the patient or your agency
- Practicing nursing while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or illicit drugs or while impaired by the use of pharmacological medications
- Being involved in the unauthorized manufacture and distribution of controlled substances
- Engaging in behavior that is contradictory to professional decorum
- Failing to report suspected wrongful acts by another licensee
- Sexual contact with a patient
- Making lewd, suggestive, demeaning, or otherwise sexual comments
- Repeatedly divulging personal information to a patient for nontherapeutic purposes, regardless of patient consent
- Failing to provide written notification of a change of address to the board within 30 days of moving
- Failing to notify the board within 30 days of a disciplinary action from another state or of a criminal conviction
As a nurse employed by an agency, it's crucial to understand how this may impact you differently compared to those working directly for healthcare facilities. It's your responsibility to ensure your agency has current and accurate information about your qualifications, ongoing education, certifications, and skill level. You need to prevent them from inaccurately representing your abilities to medical facilities during placement. If the agency mistakenly claims you have skills you don't, you, not the agency, will face consequences from the nursing board.
We at the Lento Law Firm recognize the immense pressure nurses face daily in their efforts to provide quality care while adhering to ethical standards. Navigating complex situations, handling disagreements with patients' families, or confronting complaints questioning your competence can be challenging. Given that the board is required to investigate every complaint against licensed and registered nurses, regardless of the complaint's validity, nurses' conduct is often scrutinized.
Our Professional License Defense attorneys are here to guide you through the intricate and often bewildering disciplinary proceedings. We are determined to ensure that neither trivial grievances nor misunderstandings with your agency jeopardize your hard-earned career. A minor disciplinary issue could tarnish the professional reputation you have worked tirelessly to establish, and we are committed to preventing that. Our team will assist you in understanding your rights throughout the investigation, hearing, and the entire disciplinary process, enabling you to effectively defend yourself.
Telling the Truth Might Not Be Enough to Exonerate You
We've assisted nurses and other healthcare professionals in the past with safeguarding their licenses. Investigations and disciplinary actions can often stem from misunderstandings or communication breakdowns. Many nurses think that simply sharing their perspectives will resolve the issue and dismiss the allegations. Unfortunately, this approach is not always effective. Merely presenting the truth isn't always enough to defend nurses facing license investigations.
Nursing boards don't always arrive at logical or just decisions regarding nursing licenses, even after fact-finding. They are prone to errors for various reasons:
- Insufficient evidence collection, where missing details could significantly alter the case outcome.
- Bias towards the complainant (the individual lodging the complaint).
- Disregard for certain evidence or testimony due to complex administrative rules.
- Inability to draw proper conclusions from the available information.
The board is quick to impose penalties on Iowa nurses, whether they are agency employees or not. In many instances, these nurses are innocent of any misconduct and have not breached the board's rules. In other cases, they might have warranted more lenient sanctions than what was imposed.
It's crucial to recognize that the Iowa Board of Nursing is not necessarily your ally. Its primary objective is to ensure public health and safety, often opting for caution by revoking a nurse's license rather than risking a potential threat to public welfare. This stance places nurses in a difficult position and requires a more vigorous defense.
While the board might not advocate for you, the Lento Law Firm does. Our Professional License Defense Team is dedicated to vindicating your name and securing your license. We aim to hold the board accountable, ensuring you receive a just disciplinary process and a viable opportunity to retain your license.
The Process for Accusations of Misconduct
The Iowa Board of Nursing has a strict adjudication process in place to deal with alleged violations. This process goes through three steps: investigation, board action, and appeal.
Step 1: Investigation
When the board receives a complaint, it starts the investigation procedures. Either the director of the board or another member conducts an investigation to determine if the complaint has merit or if it falls within the board's jurisdiction. The complaint and other files related to it are confidential.
As part of the investigation, the board can ask for your written response to the allegation. It can also issue subpoenas, requiring you or other parties to provide information.
Step 2: Board Action
After the investigation, the board can take a variety of actions, including:
- Closing the case
- Closing the case but issuing a letter of warning or letter of education to the licensee
- Requesting a further investigation and peer review
- Scheduling a hearing and issuing a statement of charges
When a case goes for peer review, a group of peers is selected and produces a written report. The peer review group provides an opinion on the case and how it should be handled.
If the board decides to send the matter to a hearing, you will receive a notice with a date. You'll have to go before an administrative law judge, who will hear your evidence and arguments and let you question witnesses. At this hearing and throughout the adjudication process, you are allowed to have counsel represent you.
Step 3: Appeal
After the hearing is over and the administrative law judge has issued an order, you can appeal the decision with the board. You must deliver your appeal within 10 days, either in person or by mail. The board will review the appeal and make a final decision. If you don't agree with the board's decision, you can still appeal via judicial review. You must file a motion with the circuit court of the county you reside in to start the judicial review process.
Navigating the adjudication process to protect your nursing license can be intricate and challenging, particularly if it's your first time handling such a matter. It's easy to feel swamped by the complexity. Engaging an attorney is not just beneficial for maintaining focus and organization; the board also advises securing legal representation promptly upon receiving a formal complaint notice. The Lento Law Firm is prepared to intervene and guide you through the disciplinary process.
We Assist Agency Nurses Throughout Iowa
The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm helps agency nurses working throughout Iowa at all types of healthcare facilities. We help nurses in:
- Des Moines
- Cedar Rapids
- Sioux City
- Iowa City
- Council Bluffs
Even if you don't see your city listed above, our team can assist you, and you should get in contact with us. We're committed to helping you defend your nursing license so you can continue to practice your chosen profession.
How Our Firm Helps Agency Nurses Defend Their Licenses
Facing the prospect of professional disciplinary action from the board, which is a professional organization and not a legal entity, may lead you to question whether you really need a lawyer. Considering what would happen if you were sanctioned, it's worth thinking about enlisting the Lento Law Firm Team for a number of reasons:
- The vulnerability of agency nurses to sanctions: Self-defense often means refuting allegations, placing you in a position where you're perceived as guilty until proven innocent. Crafting an effective license defense strategy is essential, and our team is skilled in formulating these strategies.
- The formidable support behind the nursing board: By challenging a complaint in front of the board, you're confronting a state entity. You need a robust legal team for this challenge.
- Unfamiliarity with the license defense process: Many agency nurses we assist are encountering disciplinary actions for the first time. Our team is seasoned in this area and will navigate you through these proceedings.
- The established success of our attorneys in defending agency nurses: Our history of successfully protecting nurses from licensing penalties offers a sense of security. With invaluable experience, our team is dedicated to settling your case effectively.
While you handle the stress of potential licensing sanctions, our team will manage every aspect of your defense, ensuring you can concentrate on your personal and professional responsibilities.
Here's What Our Firm Can Do for You
The primary mission of the Lento Law Firm Team is to clear your name and avert any disciplinary actions. In cases where sanctions are inevitable, we aim to reduce them to the greatest extent possible. Our approach to achieving these objectives includes:
- Identifying the best possible outcome for your case: We recognize that situations vary, from nurses facing false accusations to those admitting to temporary lapses in judgment or stress-induced reactions. We tailor our strategy to these specific circumstances to achieve the best possible result for your case.
- Collecting relevant evidence and witness statements: We conduct our own thorough investigation into your case, independent of third-party information. By verifying the facts ourselves, we ensure that the most compelling evidence and testimonies are utilized, which are critical in determining the outcome of nursing license defense cases.
- Exploring settlement options outside court: Our team engages in proactive negotiations with the board and other relevant authorities. Often, direct negotiations can yield a quick and favorable resolution. Our experience in informal settlements is a major reason why clients trust us with their license defense.
- Assisting in formal legal processes: If your case goes to standard adjudication, we are fully equipped to support you. We'll accompany you to all meetings, advocate on your behalf during hearings, and efficiently manage any appeals.
- Considering further legal actions when necessary: We are prepared to investigate every legal route to protect your nursing license. Should the need for actions beyond appeals arise, we will discuss and pursue these options as they become pertinent.
As a nationwide legal team experienced in dealing with professional licensing boards and their attorneys, we customize our approach for each client, always aiming for the best possible outcome.
Contact the Lento Law Firm Today
Protecting your nursing license should be of utmost importance when it's at risk. By choosing our Professional License Defense Team, you give yourself a better chance for a strong defense. We are committed to diligently collecting information, speaking with witnesses, managing legal documents, and doing everything necessary to construct a robust defense for your license.
To discuss your specific case, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 for a consultation. Alternatively, you can fill out our online form with the details of your case, and a team member will reach out to you.